Key Question: Does this passage say anything implicitly or explicitly about committed, loving, monogamous, covenanted same-sex relationships?
This passage is included on the list of seven references to homosexuality, so we will take a look at it. It is an interesting text for a number of reasons — least of which having to do with homosexuality. In many respects, this narrative echoes and parallels the Genesis 19 account we looked at earlier.
I am purposefully not doing an in-depth exegetical study/commentary on each passage. I am only looking at these passages in terms of homosexuality. BUT… let me at least say this something more broadly. Two of the major themes in the book of Judges are (1) what happens when “in those days there was no King in Israel and each did as they pleased”. This is a recurring refrain throughout the book — and I think has serious implications for society today. The second fascinating theme that is often overlooked is the importance of the role of women in Ancient Israel. In the book of Judges, we find great examples of women leaders called and ordained by God (like Deborah). But there is another subtext in the book of Judges about women. Throughout the book, how women are treated by Israel coincides directly with the moral decay and ensuing tragedy that befalls Israel. In other words, when women are treated well things go well; when they are not, they don’t. This is actually a fascinating study. And Judges 19 is the culmination of mistreatment of women in disturbing, violent and tragic ways — and I think that is primarily what this narrative is really about.
Apart from what I noted above, there are no major interpretive issues as they relate to homosexuality. Similar to the Genesis 19 passage, we need to ask both what the narrative says and how narrative should be interpreted and applied.
What the text DOES SAY about homosexuality?
– Again, like in Genesis 19, the only thing I think this narrative says about homosexuality is that homosexual rape — and in this case, all rape — is evil and wrong. My guess is we can all affirm that conclusion.
What the text DOES NOT SAY about homosexuality?
– As noted above, the text does not say anything about homosexuality except to condemn homosexual rape (which is not really about sex). The text says nothing about committed, loving same-sex relationships.
I don’t think this passage really contributes much to the discussion one way or the other (vis-a-vis homosexuality) — but I included it because it is one of only seven direct references in the Bible to homosexuality.
Those are my thoughts on this passage… what are yours? Questions? Observations?